Reasons to say bonjour to the French islands of New Caledonia on your next holiday
New Caledonia is a little piece of French flotsam in the Pacific Ocean. This French overseas territory is just over 1,200 kilometres from Australia and 20,000 kilometres from its mother country France.
What this boils down to is an island chain where you can sip coffee and tuck into flaky croissants before hitting the Robinson-Crusoe beaches, or heading out snorkelling on one of the world’s biggest barrier reefs.
Top things to do in New Caledonia
Cruise on over
Due to the fact that New Caledonia is an archipelago, it’s a great place to take a cruise. The world’s leading cruise companies are on to this, and everyone from P&O Cruises to Silversea offers itineraries around the area.
Ships set sail from all over Australia, including Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, and some stop off at the likes of Fiji and Vanuatu on the way.
The best New Caledonia itineraries include four ports of call: Noumea, Lifou, Mare and the Isle of Pines, putting everything from rainforests to French-style bistros and perfume stores at your fingertips.
Get in the water
One of the world’s largest lagoons acts as a bain-marie to the islands of New Caledonia. With the abundance of water comes a bounty of watersports, from kayaking to kite surfing. Snorkelling is one of the most popular activities.
If you’re serious about your marine life, you can take a tour that combines a guided visit to the Aquarium des Lagons with some snorkel time in the water.
The aquarium tells you all about the biodiversity of New Caledonia and showcases some of its most prized species – from grey reef sharks to sea turtles.
Tour by boat
A sailing trip is one of the best ways to see all that New Caledonia has to offer.Catamaran trips float you along the lagoon – one of the biggest in the world – and take you over the barrier reef, the second-longest double-barrier coral reef on the globe.
Depending on which company you book your boat trip with, you’ll make pit stops at places like Escapade Island Resort, where the beach is lapped by waters shared by green sea turtles and giant clams and the Ever Prosperity shipwreck.
Hit the beaches
The beaches come thick and fast in New Caledonia. Each one features Champagne sands and nursery-blue seas. Some of the most popular include Kuto Beach on the Isle of Pines which is backed by a phalanx of shady palm and pine trees, and Fayaoue Beach in the Loyalty Islands.
Fayaoue is the longest beach in the archipelago and takes the form of a runway of blinding white sand. Other options include Yejele Beach on Mare island and Amedee Island Beach in Noumea.
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